Tag Archives: CLAMP

Review: Angelic Layer (2001) Anime | My Reviews 30 NOV 2013

angelic layer animeSuzuhara Misaki is a sixth grader who has just moved to Tokyo to stay with her aunt, Asami Shouko. As she arrives at the station, she witnesses a strange sight. A televised fight between a beautiful angel and an Amazonian warrior. Transfixed by the beauty of the angel, Misaki learns about the game called Angelic Layer.

Angelic Layer is a system whereby inanimate dolls can be brought to life within the confines of a special “Layer”. These layers serve as battlegrounds for the various Deuces and their angels to decide who is the best fighter amongst them. Age, size or talent doesn’t matter. Anyone can play Angelic Layer.

With the help of the mysterious Icchan and her new friends, Kotaro, Hatoko and Tamayo, Misaki is drawn deeper and deeper into the realm of Angelic Layer. As she progresses through tournament after tournament, she reaches ever closer to her goal – to fight the angel Athena.

But Angelic Layer is more than just a game. It might just be the very thing to repair a broken and neglected relationship between a very special little girl and her mother. Misaki and her angel Hikaru will never give up. They will always fight to the very end. To be the very best that they can be.

Angelic Layer is an extremely beautifully told story about a failed relationship between a mother and her little girl. It is a story about how the wonderous invention of Angelic Layer provides the perfect platform to reunite these two. The story is beautifully written, and you can’t help but cry as the series slowly draws to a close.

The Angelic Layer concept is really cool in its idea. A special layer that brings dolls to life so that they may battle each other, based on the brain signals inputted from the controllers. Although it seems a violent game, the majority of the players are in fact female. Because it is not a physical contest, neither age nor size nor gender determine who will win at Angelic Layer.

The animation for Angelic Layer is really well done. The character lines are kept nice and simple, but the fluid animation and brilliant colours more than make up for this. The fight scenes are well thought out and coordinated, and the animation is very capable of delivering the feeling of hand-to-hand combat taking place. The character designs are really nice, with Misaki stealing the show as the cutest of them all.

The show is very well written and paced, with the right amount of drama, action and humour. It deals with the relationship between a separated mother and daughter in a very nice manner. Also, the themes of trying one’s best, and never giving up are continously promoted throughout the series. The scenes between Icchan and his crew, especially Ogata, are hilarious. The “Wrong Answer” game will have you laughing out a loud.

The musical score is very beautiful, and the director seems to know exactly when to use it. The ending credits song for the last half of the series is especially beautiful to listen to. The show has a neat trick of starting the credits music while the scene of the current show is still running. The voices all fit into place very well, each character developing a distinctive profile through their voice.

Overall, I really really liked this show. It is very cute and well done. There is no major disaster threatening life on Earth as we know it. Only the slow revelation of a failed relationship between a mother and her daughter and the steps taken to heal this relationship. People willl complain that the plot appeared to be too simple – that too many people could see what would happen in the story. I would disagree with this opinion. The story is written for younger viewers, and I think that the writers have achieved their aims perfectly. I know that I really enjoyed watching this series.

angelic layer anime wallpaper

(Historical Note: This review was written way back in May 2003. Pleasingly my writing has improved greatly since then.)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angelic_Layer

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 Anime | My Reviews 11 JAN 2009

Code Geass R2Following directly on from the previous season, Code Geass R2 plunges us straight into a new world where not everything is quite as it seems. Japan remains under Britannian rule, still stripped of its name and status, still simply referred to as Area 11 and its inhabitants, Elevens. The Black Knights are no longer a plausible threat and to the public in general, Zero appears to be dead, lost in the final battle.

Lelouch Lamperouge and his school companions’ memories have been wiped, his precious sister Nunnally has been both physically and mentally taken from him, and he is now under constant Britannian supervision and surveillance, ensuring that his memories of his previous life as Zero don’t make a sudden reappearance.

However, C.C remains on the loose and with her still around, there is no guarantee that this newly crafted peaceful world will remain as it is for long. She has a pact with Lelouch and that pact must be seen through – meaning that the time for Zero and his geass is at hand once more… as is the destruction of the absolute Britannian Emperor, Charles Di Britannia.

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 is the second season of the highly successful Sunrise original animation, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion and was released in 2008, standing at 25 episodes long. It is once again directed by Goro Taniguchi and written by Ichiro Okouchi, with character designs once more handled by the famed CLAMP mangaka group.

Essentially everything that was packed in and what made the first season such a hit is back in the follow-up run, with our love him or hate him protagonist still making some pretty dirty decisions to further his goals. There is a lot of mystery and intrigue, a lot of drama, the usual, seemingly completely out of place humour and of course tons of action – with just a hint of romance sprinkled in for good measure. The pacing is non-stop and Zero’s machinations continuously grow and change in scope as the series progresses, always keeping you on your toes and waiting to surprise you around each and every corner.

There are quite a few new characters added to the roster and the season focuses more heavily on the geass itself, introducing new users of it as well as chronicling a little more about this wonderous gift or curse as it is. However, Lelouch’s primary goals of creating a peaceful world for his blind, paralysed sister and eliminating the current Britannian emperor remains the same and thus his lies and machinations stay pretty true to his original run with the first Black Knights uprising. And in addition to all this political and strategic maneuvering, the series ALSO throws a ton of very well choreographed and thought out mecha battles to enjoy, thus ensuring that the series continues to hold as much entertainment value for those just interested in the action aspect of the story as what it does for those who dig slightly deeper in the story and message of the show.

Visually, Code Geass R2 continues its interesting character designs courtesy of CLAMP and the resulting visuals are pleasingly different from your standard anime fare, making this one of the better looking anime shows currently out. The mecha designs in particular are also pretty fantastic and very different from the norm, again helping the show to stand just that little bit taller than the rest of the current, rather generic pack. Colors are bright and vibrant and the animation is particularly fluid and generally very well choreographed. CG is kept to a minimum and the special effects that are used are extremely well blended into the scenes, making Code Geass R2 a particularly pleasing on the eye watch.

The show features some pretty veteran voice actors, including the likes of Jun Fukuyama as Lelouch Lamperouge, Takahiro Sakurai as Suzaku Kururugi and Yukana as CC. The entire group puts in a fantastic performance and coupled with a well designed musical score and arrangement under the directorship of Motoi Izawa and Yasuo Uragami, Code Geass R2 comes out sounding as polished as one could hope for in a made for TV anime series. Theme song composition, arrangement and performance is handled by Orange Range, with additional performances by Ali Project and Flow.

In summary, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 continues its addictive blend of intrigue, drama, pulse-quickening excitement, humour and just sheer mecha madness action, and with a solid meaty story underneath that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat, it is most certainly one of those must see anime series that anyone calling themselves an anime fan simply cannot miss!

So my advice to you is simple: sit back and enjoy…

Code Geass R21

Related Link: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=9173

Chobits Success Anime | My Reviews 22 OCT 2008

ChobitsYay! My first outright ‘Introduce Chantelle to anime’ success!

She has now successfully completed her first full length anime series ever, and thoroughly enjoyed it in the process! (Hell, if you watch five or six episodes in a row then you must be liking it!) The hit anime in question was none other than Chobits, probably one of the most beloved and widely enjoyed anime series ever produced.

For those of you who have never heard of it, Chobits is the creation of the super popular CLAMP mangaka quartet, and tells the story of country bumpkin Hideki Motosuwa who moves to the big city in order to attend prep school so that he may join a college and one day realise his dreams of greatness. Of course, a country bumpkin like him doesn’t really fit straight into big city life right away, and his misadventures are many to behold. However, his country luck certainly doesn’t let him down and he stumbles upon an abandoned Persocom (humanoid computer) who he eventually dubs Chii. Of course, laying around in a dumpster is usually an indication of a problem and Chii is certainly no different – lacking some vital software including the OS, Chii is now basically nothing more than an intelligent child whom Hideki needs to teach right from scratch.

However, living with what is essentially an extremely cute girl is perhaps just a little too much to ask of the rather red-blooded but always nice guy Hideki and their blossoming relationship soon leads to a mountain of mishap outings and adventures!

Chobits straddles perfectly the line of being targeted at girls or boys and as such comes off as a very successful romantic comedy with a lot of ecchi-like humour that appeals both to male and female alike, but at the same time manages to explore some very complex and deep issues, the central theme of which is always the difficult to draw a line relationship between man and machine.

If you haven’t seen this classic series you really should make an effort to because it probably will be one of the funniest and simultaneously most serious of shows that you’ll come across in a long, long time.

(Oh, and it is particularly nicely animated to boot!)

Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chobits

xxxHOLiC (Volume 6) Manga | My Reviews 24 SEP 2008

xxxHOLiC 6Kimihiro Watanuki takes a welcome break from his grueling service to the time-space witch, Yuko Ishihara, only to find himself mixed up in the strangest parade of the Japanese magical world. But a slip up reveals that Kimihiro is a powerless human! How can he survive the festival without being eaten by its dangerous participants?

Then Kimihiro meets a woman grieving for her lost son. Since Kimihiro is an orphan, the two form an immediate bond. But what will Kimihiro do when he realizes that his wonderful new friendship may very well kill him?

Kimihiro Watanuki is an easily excitable, highly strung and extremely unlucky high school student who happens to be able to see and has been plagued by the spirit world all his life. A chance meeting with the beautiful but unpredictable space-time witch Yuko Ishihara who’s business it is to grant wishes has given Watanuki the chance to finally be rid of the spirit world for good – but in exchange the hapless student now needs to work in her mystical shop where all manner of things spiritual and downright scary abound anyway!

Volume 6 sees Watanuki and Domeki dragged directly into the spirit world thanks to a gift from an unexpected visitor to Yuko who then decides to pass the present on to Watanuki as part of his ‘learning’ instead. However, this particular journey into the spirit world is by far the most dangerous yet and the slightest miscalculation or misstep may actually be the death of both of them!

This is then followed by an important lesson as to the origin of old wives’ tales when Watanuki decides to challenge the convention of not clipping one’s toenails after dark.

Now working at the wish-granting shop certainly comes with a lot of perks, but more usually it is paired with back-breaking work and cooking, so Watanuki is more than a little thrilled at the prospect of getting some time off as Yuko and Mokona need to travel elsewhere to take care of some pressing business, leaving the young man to his own devices. But as per usual trouble isn’t far behind and the sad drama revolving around a mother who has lost her son and the friendship she strikes up with the orphan Watanuki is about to unfold, a drama which may just actually end with the death of one of these two people!

And then finally, one last task awaits our hapless hero – a full moon delivery that will only go safely if you know how to play with words!

xxxHOLiC is produced by the super popular, all female mangaka group CLAMP, responsible for some of the most well known manga titles to ever reach us out here in the West. These four ladies started out producing doujinshi (fan fiction) a while ago but word of their work soon caught on and being of such a high standard, they quickly began to make a name for themselves in the professional world. Some of their previous credits including Chobits, X/1999, CardCaptor Sakura, xxxHOLIC and Magic Knight Rayearth, just to name a few!

Volume 6 of xxxHOLiC has to go down as one of the darker and more serious tomes yet, with the focus of the entire story most definitely taken off the silly comedy that one has come to expect from the interactions between Watanuki, Domeki and Himawari and placed instead more on the tangible dangers that the spirit world actually holds in store for the people who would freely interact with it.

There is a lot more sadness to this volume and although it is balanced out with the necessary mysticism, comedy and humour that xxxHOLiC is known for, this time around you will end off the book feeling a lot more down than what you would normally do with any other volume in the series. That said, the quality of story and writing is exactly what you would expect from the CLAMP ladies, so this volume holds up perfectly in the series then.

xxxHOLiC continues its rather unique visual presentation, with its exquisitely detailed costume designs and rather appealing elongated character proportions, all mixed up with some beautifully heavy but clean brush work. As always xxxHOLiC is extremely light on the background details, only filling anything in when it is absolutely essential.

Detailed but always fun character expressions and the occasional use of super-deformed caricatures continues to enforce a lot of the book’s humorous elements and one has to say that volume 6 ranks right up there with the rest of CLAMP’s masterful works.

In summary, volume 6 of xxxHOLiC certainly feels more meaty and dramatic than the previous volumes, but at the same time retains the humour and atmosphere that has made xxxHOLiC such a hit for CLAMP and therefore makes for a well-balanced, enjoyable read that is sure to please almost everyone who picks it up off the shelf.

Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XxxHOLiC

xxxHOLiC (Volume 5) Manga | My Reviews 17 AUG 2008

xxxHOLiC Volume5Kimihiro Watanuki is the indentured servant of Yuko, the beautiful but completely unpredictable Space-Time Witch. He must work at her bizarre wish-granting shop until he can pay off his own wish: to be free of the spirits that haunt him. Yuko’s latest customer is a rain spirit who wants Kimihiro dispatched on a rescue mission. Little does Kimihiro know that this mission will take him to death’s door!

And that’s not his only problem: A cute spirit has given him a Valentine’s Day present, which means he’s obligated by Japanese custom to return the favour. What do you get a girls who may not even exist in this world?

Volume 5 of xxxHOLiC continues the mystical and spiritual misadventures of the extremely excitable but unlucky in all sense of the word Kimihiro Watanuki, a high school student who can see and has been plagued by the spirit world all his life. A chance meeting with the beautiful but unpredictable space-time witch Yuko Ichihara who’s business it is to grant wishes has given Watanuki the chance to finally be rid of the spirit world for good – but in exchange the hapless student now needs to work in her mystical shop where all manner of things spiritual and downright scary abound anyway!

This volume sees Watanuki and Domeki team up once again, this time on the behest of a rain sprite that employs their help in attempting a rescue of something that lies beneath the red hydrangea patch. And of course this being a spirit world request, the danger that lies in wait for them is best left unsaid.

Second up is the mystery surrounding one of the girls that happens to attend the same school as what Domeki and Watanuki do. This girl used to be pretty normal, quiet and reserved, but now there is something a little odd about this girl’s behaviour around other people, particularly when they cause her insult – all of which may just be linked to the strange angel-like feathers growing out of her back!

And then finally it is time for Watanuki to make good on his gift received on Valentine’s Day (Japanese custom dictates boys returning the favour received from girls on ‘White Day’), even if the person he needs to compensate happens to be a spirit that resides all the way out on Reisen mountain.

xxxHOLiC is produced by the super popular, all female mangaka group CLAMP, responsible for some of the most well known manga titles to ever reach us out here in the West. These four ladies started out producing doujinshi (fan fiction) a while ago but word of their work soon caught on and being of such a high standard, they quickly began to make a name for themselves in the professional world. Some of their previous credits including Chobits, X/1999, CardCaptor Sakura, xxxHOLIC and Magic Knight Rayearth, just to name a few!

As always xxxHOLiC’s writing is based in well researched Japanese folklore and then mixed up with some targeted social commentary which is then brought to us courtesy of the loveable Watanuki and his various adventures in the spirit world. For the first time since the series started, the story introduces a new, darker back-story for Yuko, laying the foundation for what surely will be an exciting storyline to follow in the future and a welcome break from Watanuki and company’s usually comedic antics.

The writing is once again well paced and the self-contained story arcs are all satisfying and all have something to say, at the same time continuing to build up the main characters and lay the foundations for the future volumes all at once. The stories keep you guessing and CLAMP do a good job of building intrigue and mystery into their arcs, particularly noteworthy if you consider the length of each self-contained arc in the volume.

There is a lot more of a darker feeling to this particular volume and slowly but surely the stakes for Watanuki’s spirit world interventions are on the rise. However, that said, the writing retains its comical nature and xxxHOLiC will have you laughing out a loud more than once.

Visually CLAMP continue their trademark elongated character proportions which gives xxxHOLiC such a distinct yet thoroughly pleasing look. Character and character costume designs are exquisite as always, though I still feel that they are a little light on backgrounds at the moment. The clean, heavyset lines makes for very attractive visuals and combined with the attention to both simplified facial lines and super-deformed character expressions (where necessary – which with Watanuki happens to be often) makes for a very good looking book, just as you’ve come to expect from the CLAMP masters.

Overall, xxxHOLiC volume 5 really doesn’t put a foot wrong and CLAMP produce a beautiful, easy to read work that is drenched in drama and spiritual mystery but at the same time carries all the humour that makes xxxHOLiC as unique and fun as it is.

Thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining, you would do well to pick up this volume – as well as all of those that precede it!

Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XxxHOLiC

xxxHOLiC (Volume 4) Manga | My Reviews 02 AUG 2008

xxxHOLiC Volume 4It’s Valentine’s Day – and while Domeki is showered with chocolates and cards from girls, Watanuki receives none. To make matters worse, he must also do the usual chores for Yuko, which includes making chocolate cake for her and Mokona, as well as the treats his boss wants to give away as gifts. But when Watanuki discovers he has a shy and secret admirer who is not quite human, he finds that chocolates can be more than just sweets.

 

Then, after seeing identical twin sisters pass by in the street, Yuko makes a curious remark: that there are chains that only humans can use to bind others. Watanuki meets the sisters and senses that the relationship between them is not what it seems…

Volume 4 of xxxHOLiC continues the mystical and spiritual misadventures of the excellent cook but unlucky in everything else Kimihiro Watanuki, a high school student who has been plagued by youkai (spirits), who seemingly have a very strong attraction to him, for all his life. A chance (?) meeting with the trans-dimensional witch known simply as Yuko Ichihara, a mysterious and beautiful (if a little self-involved) woman whose business it is to grant wishes, promises to rid Watanuki of these spirits for good – but as a fair exchange Watanuki is now forced to work in her mystical shop!

So easily-excitable and over reactive Watanuki now finds himself cooking and running small errands dealing with both the supernatural and normal household chores, all while having to deal with his stoic and athletic ‘rival’ Shizuka Domeki, who has all the luck with women and seems to be the exact opposite of Watanuki! And then of course there is Himawari Kunogi, sweet little Himawari, who Watanuki would just die for – it’s just too bad that she doesn’t seem to feel quite so strongly about him!

This time around it is Valentine’s Day, and as expected, the girls aren’t exactly lining up to present Watanuki with any chocolates this year! However, with Watanuki’s strange attraction of all that is spiritual, it comes as no wonder that there is a particular little girl that takes an interest in him – and who steals a very special ‘chocolate’ in order to present to him – the consequences of which leads to a very madcap and desperate chase around the skies of the city!

The second story arc for this volume deals with two beautiful twins who seemingly get on with each other like a house on fire but happen to be complete opposites in terms of personality – and it all has to do with the ‘chains’ that only humans can use to bind with explains Yuko. Of course, unable just to leave the problem alone, Watanuki (and Domeki) find themselves drawn into the lives of the twins which may just prove too tough a nut to crack for either of them!

The volume then closes off with two quick fire encounters which serves to teach Watanuki the smallest of lessons, but lessons that are sure to make him grow just that little much more.

xxxHOLiC is produced by legendary, all female mangaka group CLAMP, responsible for some of the most well known manga titles to ever reach us out here in the West. These four ladies started out producing doujinshi (fan fiction) but soon word of their work caught on and because it was of such a high standard, they quickly began to make a name for themselves in the professional world, with some of their previous credits including Chobits, X/1999, CardCaptor Sakura, xxxHOLIC and Magic Knight Rayearth just to name a few! They are currently publishing three ongoing titles in Japan, namely Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNICLE, xxxHOLiC and Gohou Drug.

As per usual, the story is drenched in Japanese folklore and legend and oozes with spiritual and supernatural phenomena which provide the backbone for all of Watanuki’s unusual encounters. A strong theme throughout the series is the ongoing growth of Watanuki through serious and often dramatic scenarios and Volume 4 continues this tradition very nicely. The writing style is the usual madcap mix of drama and comedy, with the very hyperactive and over-reactive Watanuki taking first and foremost stage. The comical relationship between him, Domeki and Himawari is plumbed for material as always, with the odd little black mokona and Maru & Moro providing a little extra comical relief when needed.

All the stories contained within the book are nicely laid out, easy to follow and all try to say something, which makes xxxHOLiC even more enjoyable to read as you can enjoy it on both an intellectual and just plain fun level at the same time.

Artistically, CLAMP continue their tradition of exaggerated proportions which gives the book a nice and unique feel without being too jarring all at once. They make frequent use of super-deformed and exaggerated facial expressions for the comedy bits, and this blends in well with the overall style of the book. All the characters are beautifully designed and detailed, particularly Yuko and the multitude of finely designed costumes that she wears every day, but it must be noted that CLAMP seemed particularly lazy when it came to backgrounds in this volume because they are rather sparse in appearance and are often just substituted for a bunch of linear lines instead of surrounding objects! Still, their relatively solid and clean lines make for a very easy viewing and this helps the book flow just that much better.

Overall, xxxHOLiC volume 4 is a nicely self-contained read that delivers on everything that is good about xxxHOLiC. It looks good, reads straightforward and provides a generous dose of comedy and drama, all drenched in Japanese folklore, ghosts and mysteries. So if you liked CLAMP’s other works, then you’ll probably enjoy this one as well!

Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XxxHOLiC

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE (Volume 5) Manga | My Reviews 25 JUL 2008

Tsubasa 5The End of a Fairy Tale: Following the trail of the stolen children of Spirit Town, Sakura is captured at the forbidden castle, where she encounters the golden-haired ghost! Syaoran and his friends – the sociable magician Fai D. Flowright, the master swordsman Kurogane, and the odd creature Mokona – must now penetrate the ancient stronghold in order to rescue Sakura and the missing children. Will they finally uncover the truth behind the legend of Princess Emerald? And will they recover another fragment of Sakura’s lost memory?

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE tells the story of the strong-willed Syaoran, the easygoing magician Fai D. Flowright, the conflict-hungry warrior Kurogane and the strange creature called Mokona, who have all banded together in order to trek across the various alternate planes of existence in the hopes of collecting all of the scattered and missing feathers that make up the soul and memories of Princess Sakura, the former love interest of Syaoran. Of course, in order to gain the ability to make the crossing to all of these new and exciting worlds, each one of the group had to make a deal with the dimension-spanning witch Yuko (from xxxHOLIC), which in turn cost each and every one of them the something that they held most dear. Now stripped of the things most important to them, our heroic trio plus the helpless Sakura must plunge headfirst into dimensional portal after dimensional portal in the hopes that Mokona can lead them to that which they seek the most – Sakura’s magical feathers!

Volume 5 of Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE puts us firmly back on track within CLAMP’s mammoth alternate universe-spanning mega-adventure, with the conclusion of the Spirit Town arc which last left us with a mystery as to the village’s rapidly disappearing children as well as the eventual capture and incarceration of Sakura herself! The plot thickens as Syaoran and the rest of the team scramble to solve the mystery of the missing children and in so doing, rescue Sakura from her unknown captor! Meanwhile, Sakura herself is slowly but surely uncovering just what has been happening in the mysterious castle that taunts them so, including the real truth behind the legend of Princess Emerald!

Following on the Spirit Town story arc, the next location to which our intrepid band is spirited off to is a country known as Oto, a seemingly peaceful paradise that seems to suffer from only one small problem – dangerous shadow-like Oni! And seeing as Mokona does sense the power of a feather somewhere within the city, the group is here to stay for a while – meaning that each and every one of them will need to get a job in order to make some money for living expenses!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, basically it is currently the longest-running manga serialization from the super popular CLAMP group of mangaka ladies, a project so big that it pulls in characters and situations from throughout their numerous smash hit titles from before. (And if you don’t know what CLAMP is in fact responsible for, take a look at this list: Magic Knight Rayearth, Chobits, Cardcaptor Sakura, Angelic Layer, X/1999 and xxxHOLIC!)

The tone for this volume follows the usual sadness, angst and drama that the previous Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE story arcs have carried, but as usual it is sprinkled throughout with doses of feel good moments, humorous situations and a lot of non-stop action and fighting sequences. This volume fairs better than the previous volume in that it comes across as a more action-orientated journey and because it features the conclusion to at least one story arc, makes it feel a slightly more complete experience. Of course, CLAMP also manage to keep loyal readers interested by introducing some new shadowy figures into the bigger picture and then managing to turn everything around on its head once again by introducing a completely new world for us to explore and makes us salivate in anticipation for the next volume that is to come.

Artistically, CLAMP continues with their distinctive elongated proportions but back these sometimes odd looking poses with some beautiful and heavy line work that adds tons of atmosphere to the proceedings. Despite the heavy line work, CLAMP puts a lot of detail into their characters, especially their rather varied outfits, making for some very fine visuals indeed. Their background scenery on the other hand continues to be fairly sparse, but at least when they do bother to put in some background detail, it does admittedly look pretty damn good.

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE Volume 5 is a solid addition to this epic storyline that CLAMP are in the process of crafting and manages to satisfy almost all types of readers out there, from action to angst to humour seekers, while at the same time managing to retain that certain something that has made almost all CLAMP works as popular as they are. It looks good, it reads easily enough, and so to sum it all up – what are you waiting for? Go and pick it up already!

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsubasa_Reservoir_Chronicle

Chobits (Volume 1) Manga | My Reviews 08 JUN 2008

ChobitsChi isn’t your average humanoid computer. She can’t do word processing, she can’t connect to the Net, and she’s incapable of interfacing with other Persocoms … but when the hapless, technophobic Hideki rescues her from the scrap heap and takes her home, he finds that she may be more advanced than her childlike behaviour lets on…

Chobits tells the story of 19 year-old naïve farm-boy Hideki Motosuwa, currently studying to get into university through a Tokyo prep school, who comes across an abandoned Persocom just lying there in the trash. Persocom are androids, computers in the form of human beings, and are currently the hottest thing in Japan, with nearly everyone in the city owning one of these powerful machines. Everyone except the eternally broke Hideki who can only ever dream of owning one of these beauties to handle all his email, internet and porn-browsing needs.

So the discovery of his very own Persocom is indeed a time of happiness – that is until he discovers that there is something very, very wrong with this one. Unable to speak, ‘Chi’ being the only thing coming out of this adorable little android, Chi (as she is now named) is in need of some serious teaching and unfortunately for her the good-hearted (but very hot-blooded) Hideki is the boy to do it.

Volume 1 of this adorable little developing comedic love story introduces us to the main characters of Hideki and Chi and establishes the baseline on which the rest of the manga is to follow. The central intrigue surrounding the story is of course who is Chi, why was she abandoned and why is she seemingly so powerful? Built on this are a number of observations of love and the nature of it and then on top of that gets thrown all manner of comedy as the naïve but rather perverted Hideki gets to try and teach Chi about the world and daily living.

Chobits is legendary mangaka group CLAMP’s first attempt at a seinan story, in other words a story which is aimed at men aged between 18 and 30. As with all their writing, Chobits is intelligently written with loads of humour, both physical and inferred, more than enough intrigue and dramatic elements and a heavy dab of developing romance. There is also quite a few ecchi moments tossed in as well, some fairly unfamiliar territory for a group that made a name for themselves with younger girls’ titles like Cardcaptor Sakura and Angelic Layer.

Visually, Chobits drips detail and the character models are simply gorgeously rendered. Every single character that appears on the pages are brought to life with expert line work and makes Chobits one of the better looking titles out there. There is loads of background detail as well for a change and it is nice to see CLAMP drawing without falling back on their trademark elongated human proportions. And of course, their brilliant ability to capture the more humorous moments with great caricatures and exaggerated artwork simply adds to the fun!

Chobits volume 1 is a great start to an interesting, compelling and deep storyline that keeps you entertained with plenty of humour, both ecchi and normal, but at the same time keeps the mystery and intrigue flowing – all the while making social commentary left, right and center too! And to top it all off, there is even a hint of a romance to keep you on your toes!

All in all Chobits is a great read and a good laugh, and is highly recommended to anyone who wants to jump on CLAMP’s more mature works bandwagon.

Especially males that is.

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chobits

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE (Volume 2) Manga | My Reviews 30 MAY 2008

Tsubasa Volume 2Syaoran, Fai, Kurogane and Mokona venture to the Hanshin Republic to find one of the missing pieces of Sakura’s memory, transformed into magically powerful feathers. There, Syaoran meets his ‘Kudan’: a fierce wolf-spirit whose fiery power mirrors Syaoran’s personal strength. But with foes like a pop idol who sings words of pain, Syaoran’s hunt for feathers is no child’s game! And even if he finds the feathers, will Sakura ever wake up from her magical sleep? And since Syaoran bargained away their relationship in a pact with a witch, can their love ever return to the way it was?

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNICLE tells the story of Syaoran a young, focused warrior that witnesses his beloved Sakura’s soul and memories get literally pulled out from her body and dispersed in the form of magical feathers across the different planes of existence, rendering her unconscious and lost to this world. Joined by the enigmatic Fai D. Flowright and powerful Kugane, and with the help of the trans-dimensional witch Yuko and her pet Mokona, Syaoran sets out on his quest to cross into the various dimensions that exist in search of Sakura’s feathers in the hopes of one day restoring her back to the way she was. But to complicate matters, each dimension has its own set of rules and the people (and creatures) have their own set of abilities, making this anything but a walk in the park. And then of course there is the question of the sacrifices that the trio needed to make in order get Yuko to agree to help them in the first place…

Volume 2 sees our group in the Hanshin Republic where everyone has their own familiar spirit, called a ‘Kudan’ and of course, bored as always, certain groups of youngsters have started to organise turf wars using their Kudan as living weapons. The problem that Syaoran and the group face however is far more perplexing: Mokona can’t quite seem to get a fix on Sakura’s feather at the moment! It can sense it appearing sporadically but then it disappears again, making the search even more difficult than what it already is. Luckily the group has met some helpful locals to help out, but to be honest, the search for the first feather is looking more than a little bleak at the moment!

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNICLE is the work of legendary ,mangaka group CLAMP, responsible for some of the most well known manga titles out here in the West. Previous credits include Chobits, X/1999, CardCaptor Sakura, xxxHOLIC and Magic Knight Rayearth. These four ladies started out producing doujinshi (fan fiction) but soon word of their work caught on and because it was of such a high standard, they quickly began to make a name for themselves in the professional world. As it is, they are currently publishing three ongoing titles in Japan, namely Tsubasa, xxxHOLIC and Gohou Drug.

As with all their other writing, Tsubasa finds that perfect mix of drama and comedy but as an extra bonus, it comes with a more than generous smattering of action scenes as we get to see Fai, Syaoran and Kurogane put through their paces, even if it is with the aid of their Kugan familiars. The writing is pretty simple to follow but does a great job in dragging you in and capturing your imagination. Dramatic and more than a little heart sore in places, there is a clever little twist lying in wait for you as well, so look out for that!

On the artistic front, CLAMP have left their highly detailed style from their earlier works behind and instead gone for a slightly rougher with heavier outlines look, putting a lot of attention in extending their characters’ basic proportions, going for a distinctive ‘lanky’ look which has now become a trademark of their new style. A lot of background detail are also present and to sum it all up, Tsubasa can only be described as a visual treat. Detailed, beautiful and flowing, it is quite difficult to take your eyes for even a second off the work that the girls have come up with here.

In short, Tsubasa is well written, contains loads of action, drama and comedic moments to satisfy any manga reader and to top it all off, looks simply fantastic as well! A great piece of escapist fantasy and easily recommendable to anyone, be it your avid manga fan or a total newcomer to this fantastic genre.

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsubasa_Reservoir_Chronicle